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Category Archives: Cathode Rays

TV with a Rich, Creamy Filling

Here we go again: Slate.com on VH-1. The writer has some good observations, although I seriously wouldn’t want to meet anyone who finds that “Celebreality” junk appealing. Although I try to stay away from VH-1 like a strict dieter wants to avoid Twinkies, they’ve seduced me again with the forthcoming I Love Toys. C-list comedians riffing on Stretch Armstrong? I am so there.

Queen of the House

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I just spent a couple of hours today digging through the website of the stylish Brini Maxwell. Brini, in case you don’t know, hosts a fabulous retro themed how-to show currently in its second season on the Style network. She also happens to be a man dressed as a woman — although her “act” is a refreshing contrast to the stereotypically campy, over the top image one usually associates with drag performers. She’s actually very subtle in her efforts to channel Donna Reed circa 1962, and therein lies my fascination with her show. Not only is Brini herself a hoot, I’ve gotten some great tips from the few episodes I’ve seen. Too bad it’s on a network that nobody gets. Guess I’ll have to break down and buy the DVDs instead.

p.s. Those without the Style Network (that is, about 99% of America give or take a %) can get a dose of Brini through her new weekly podcasts. Instructions on how to get them are on her site’s news page. Despite their brevity, I just love her tastes in swanky background music (the theme from Mannix — yeah!).

Four Phases of VH-1

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I’ve been thinking about VH-1 lately. More precisely, the good old VH-1 from five or ten years ago. I miss it, but there’s always hope that things will change. As this handy Wikipedia entry demonstrates, the channel has had a complex history. The interesting thing about VH-1 lies in how, unlike MTV, they never established themselves with a singular, generation-defining image. Maybe that explains why they’ve gotten away with massive personality shifts over the years. I would characterize them in four distinct cycles:

Phase One (mid ’80s) VH-1 launches in 1985 to little fanfare; in contrast to MTV, music videos skew older and snoozier (Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Julio Iglesias); bizarre assortment of veejays include Don Imus, Rita Coolidge and John “Bowzer” Bauman.

Phase Two (late ’80s/early ’90s) Agressive marketing campaign promotes the channel as a thirtysomething MTV, complete with viewers’ icky, self-indulgent recollections of their favorite ’60s/’70s albums; videos skew toward the yuppie-ish (Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman); Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O’Donnell marks a tentative step towards non-music programming; veejays include O’Donnell, Ellen Foley and Bobby Rivers (aka gayest veejay ever).

Phase Three (mid to late ’90s) “Music First” branding serves as a contrast to MTV’s increasingly non-music image; programming trends toward the the ironic and self-referential with Behind the Music, Pop Up Video and kitschy repeats of Solid Gold and The Midnight Special; videos skew in a mainstream pop direction (Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Eric Clapton); live performance rules with VH-1 Storytellers and VH-1 Divas In Concert.

Phase Four (’00s) Popularity of I Love the ’80s leads to avalanche of cheaply produced pop culture-themed originals; superfluous awards shows and tabloid programming (Driven, The Fabulous Life Of) abound; music videos quietly migrate to the wee hours only; increased influence from corporate owner Viacom results in synergistic nightmares such as ET on VH-1; trashy “Celebreality” programming brings gainful employment to has-been celebrities; catches up with MTV in its tenuous connection with music.

She’s No Bebe Shopp!

Does anyone still think about Miss America? For the first time in years, I actually tuned in to the CMT broadcast of last weekend’s pageant. It was exactly as I remember it — kind of kitschy, kind of boring, completely fascinating in its earnestness and increasing irrelevancy. The winner, Miss Oklahoma, projected a somewhat plastic personality in contrast to the bubbly and sweet Miss Georgia. I demand a recount! Lots of Co’s Max actually attended the ceremony in Las Vegas and posted some fun photos on Flickr. Although being there in person would be a scream, perhaps the best way to experience Miss America would be watching it on the telly in a roomful of snarky gay men.

Here’s a hilarious take from the wayback machine: Peter Bagge at the 2000 pageant, courtesy of suck.com.

Dude Needs Jenny Craig

The Chicago Tribune asks a nagging question that has been haunting us here in Chez Scrubbles: Why is Hurley on ‘Lost’ still fat? We’ve been noticing that the actor playing Hurley is actually looking heavier this season than last. How is that possible (unless he’s been snacking on the other castaways)?

I Second the Notion

Christopher posted at Just Ask Christopher about the must-see Hayao Miyazaki film fest on Turner Classic Movies this month. Every Thursday, TCM will be playing nine of the animation master’s films — both the English dubbed and original Japanese soundtrack versions. The program also includes two films he produced but didn’t direct, Pom Poko and Only Yesterday. Can’t wait!